Twitter has a history of banning people for stupid reasons whilst letting other people get away with whatever they want. Well, this came up on my timeline earlier:
Yes, somebody got their account temporarily limited for saying the phrase “kill me now”.
I’m not sure how much of a secret it is considering the kind of things that Twitter actually lets you get away with, but it’s true, in the terms and conditions you’re not allowed to post anything suicidal.
Let’s first address why this is.
A few months back I read an article where somebody had been murdering teenagers he met on social media platforms. The way he gained his victims trust was through “mutual understanding of suicidal tendencies”. Whether he did or did not have suicidal tendencies is not the issue, the issue is that this person used social media to seek out, manipulate and ultimately murder those in need of serious help. So it’s sort of understandable, knowing that there are people out there like this, that you wouldn’t be allowed to talk about suicide on social media. Not to mention, as I’ve been told many times before, talk of suicide is a buzzkill and people don’t really want to hear about it. For some it’s too raw, for some it’s too real and for some it’s just simply something they want to ignore.
I do suppose the smallest amount of kudos in the world goes to Twitter for at least putting “Please know that there are people out there who care about you, and you are not alone”. I say this because it’s really not that comforting if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and when you see this treatment happen to somebody using “kill me now” in a rhetorical way, it sort of undermines everything because you know it’s not coming from a place of care, it’s just coming from a computer whose algorithm has picked up on the words “kill me”.
So if somebody is legitimately saying they want to commit suicide and you temporarily limit their account, what does this mean? Well, as seen above it means you can only send Direct Messages to people who follow you. This seriously cuts down the social interaction portion of the social media platform. So if, like me, you don’t have a lot of “real life friends” and a lot of your interaction is online, then you are essentially isolating somebody who is already feeling isolated. You’re not helping them down off of the ledge, you’re simply moving the crowd away and then pushing them closer to the edge. It’s possibly the worst way that you could deal with somebody who is actually going through a suicidal time.
And what you’re actually doing is adding to the stigma of suicide. Instead of getting in touch with the individual with some links to suicide hotlines in their country or groups that could help, you’re just putting a finger over their mouth and whispering “Shhh, nobody wants to talk about that” which just makes them feel even more marginalised and abnormal. You’re stopping people asking for help because you’re telling them it’s something to be ashamed of or afraid of when in reality it’s just something that you need to work through with help. The key point here is “with help” because I don’t know of anybody who got through suicidal tendencies alone and so if you take away their social interaction then they’ve suddenly got less people to help them.
Let’s also touch briefly on the idea of why people have suicidal tendencies. There are hundreds, if not thousands of reasons, but I’ll tell you one of mine; loss of control. When I feel my life isn’t mine to live then sometimes I consider whether it’s worth living any longer. So on Twitter I have a space that is mine, that I can say what I want and if people want to listen they can and if they don’t then they don’t, up to them. But you’re taking away my space with this policy and enforcing the idea that it’s only borrowed or rented space because ultimately it belongs to you and you control everything. If you think that’s an exaggeration then you’re very lucky to have never had mental health problems.
I do understand that you can’t personally reach out to every single person who shows up on your algorithm but one of the major problems with this message is that it stinks of corporate crap. Any personal touch you tried for at the beginning is washed away completely by the end.